Housing After a Quarantined Life

The Pandemic has impacted all the world. One thing I didn’t explore was its relationship to the housing market.  There was much activity from landlords being more forgiving to their renters, to increasing demand for available homes. Top 10 potential impacts that could elicit questions from buyers and sellers over the near term. I was home a few months and moved within my complex because of trying to work from home. As a writer being able to jump into the world of words with few distractions is essential. My best quality work comes from my home office. I have been reading a few articles, with particular emphasis on where I live, California. Here are some of the interesting things I discovered!

Here are the latest housing market predictions for 2021 & 2022. It has been roughly one year when the pandemic put the housing market on hold for several months last spring. But the real estate market bounced back rather quickly. For nearly a year now, low mortgage rates and an increase in working from home ignited by the pandemic have fueled a rapid increase in housing demand — especially in lower-density suburbs. Despite uncertain economic times, there has been a booming residential housing market. More existing homes were sold in 2020 than in any year since 2006!

The lack of supply and rise in mortgage rates will likely continue to hold back potential home sales. That’s one reason why Fannie Mae has decreased their housing sales forecast for 2021. But it doesn’t mean that the housing market will crash. They just expect a slowdown in the monthly pace of both existing and new sales later in the year. However, on an annual basis, the total home sales in 2021 are still predicted to be 6.2 percent higher than last year. Even as mortgage rates drift upward, home purchase demand remains robust.

Forbes Magazine says some of this may be irreversible. Real estate’s re-sorting this time isn’t just based on markets crashing (the Great Recession), political turmoil (the 1979 oil embargo), or financial speculation (the first and second busts)—after which there’s generally confidence that overall consumer demand and buyer preferences will sooner or later snap back to normal.

According to the Zillow Home Value Index, home prices rose 9.1 percent over the past year since the start of the pandemic and are expected to rise more than 10 percent over the next 12 months. In Boise, Idaho, the typical home value in February 2020 was $339,000. Today, at the time of writing, that same home costs just over $419,000, an increase of nearly 25 percent. In fact, it’s fair to say that nearly everywhere in the country, the residential market is on fire. Even in places that had struggled to recover from the devastating effects of the housing crisis.

According to, since the start of the pandemic, home prices have risen 14.3 percent, there are 27 percent fewer new listings than expected during the week of March 7, 2021, 50 percent fewer homes are on the market and homes are taking less time to sell (by a week).

Between September 2019 and September 2020, homeowners accumulated a collective $1 trillion in additional home equity. The exploding demand of the past year, in conjunction with a historically low supply of housing, has led buyers to desperately bid up the prices of available properties, sending home prices soaring. The boom has been welcome news for homeowners (about 65 percent of American households are owner-occupied), but it’s troubling for the growing number of Americans who are being shut out of the housing market altogether. In a new Urban Institute report, researchers found that if the country continues down the same road, over the next two decades the US homeownership rate is set to decline to 62.1 percent. The losses will be concentrated among younger people and Black Americans. When you break down the findings by age cohort, things look grim: Younger millennials will have a homeownership rate of 64 percent as opposed to the 72 percent of boomers who owned homes at their age. Further, the racial homeownership gap between Black and white Americans is set to increase among 55- to 64-year-olds from 28.9 percentage points to 33.3 percentage points.

Top 10 potential impacts that could elicit questions from buyers and sellers over the near term.

  1. Forecasts Have Been Downgraded, But Few Economists are Calling for Recession Yet: Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its forecast for global economic growth by 0.1% but is still calling for an expansion in 2020, albeit at a slower pace. Similar orders of magnitude have been forecast for the domestic economy, with groups like Wells Fargo and others expecting GDP to grow by 10-20 basis points lower than their pre-Coronavirus forecast. Growth is expected to be slower, but the economy is still expected to grow.
  2. Mortgage Rates Will Likely Remain Low, Or Even Fall Further as A Result of Coronavirus: The Federal Reserve issued an emergency 50 basis point cut to their target interest rates, and guidance suggests that the Fed may be open to future reductions in order to counteract the negative impacts to financial markets. This should help to reduce the cost of borrowing and make housing more affordable over the near term, which should help to offset some of the negative impacts to housing demand associated with rising uncertainty.
  3. Domestic Buyers May Be Discouraged by Rising Uncertainty and Recession Risk, But Is It Still a Good Time to Buy? This week, mortgage rates fell to an all-time low level of just 3.13%. That is down from 3.80% at the start of the year and represents significant cost savings over the life of a 30-year loan. For buyers who can afford their monthly payments, the economic uncertainty that is driving rates lower provides an opportunity to capitalize on significantly reduced borrowing costs that they will enjoy for years to come. Short-run risks to the economy exist but are arguably offset by long-run benefits of lower rates at the individual level.
  4. Financial Market Volatility Could Reduce Demand for Luxury Homes, But Also Create Potential Opportunities for Luxury Home Buyers: The recent turbulence in financial markets has already impacted household wealth. This could reduce demand for luxury homes in California in particular. However, with fewer luxury buyers, there could be opportunities for price discounts for buyers who choose to remain in the market for high-end properties. Real estate may also act as a buffer against potentially larger declines in the financial markets.
  5. Demand from Foreign Home Buyers Could Be Curtailed Over the Near Term: Reduced economic growth in China, specifically, could stifle demand for California real estate this year. However, foreign buyers represented just 3.9% of California’s home sales last year, so the impacts statewide will be muted compared to 6 years ago, when foreign buyers represented 8.0% of the market. In addition, because domestic buyers typically finance their homes in much larger proportions to their foreign counterparts, low rates could stimulate more domestic demand that would help to offset the impact to foreign buyer demand.
  6. Foreign-Home Sellers May Face Closing Delays: Because the Embassy and many consulates are closed or may have limited hours in China, and elsewhere, there may be difficulty in providing a properly notarized deed to the property that escrow will accept and title will insure. Advise sellers to make efforts to obtain the deed early in the transaction. If sellers are currently in the U.S., make efforts to comply before returning to their foreign home country. If a contract has not been accepted, foreign sellers might want to consider a contingency allowing a seller to cancel if they are unable to obtain a notarized deed.
  7. New Home Construction in California Could Slow Further, Exacerbating Already-Tight Supply: Many of the inputs to California’s Building Industry are sourced from Asian countries including China. As the Coronavirus disrupts these supply chains, the cost of those materials may increase over the short run or become limited, which will increase the cost of construction and potentially reduce the pace of new residential development below its already lackluster pace in 2020.
  8. Low Rates and Fewer New Homes Constructed Should Place Upward Pressure on Home Prices: Improved affordability stemming from lower rates combined with fewer new homes being constructed as the construction supply chain is impacted could lead to more upward pressure on home prices in California. Unsold inventory is already at low levels, and reduced construction activity means that is likely to continue—especially if buyers respond to lower rates.
  9. Offsetting Effects Leave C.A.R.’s Housing Market Outlook Unchanged, For Now: The situation remains fluid, and conditions could deteriorate beyond what is currently envisioned depending on the severity and duration of the outbreak, but if current economic forecasts of modest declines in GDP growth are realized, the effects of lower rates should help to offset the effects of a slower economy and increased economic uncertainty such that California would still achieve a modest improvement in both home sales and prices this year.
  10. Eventual Rebound Will Take Longer Than It Did with SARS in 2000:At the turn of the century, the negative impact of the SARS virus began to fade within 6 months of the outbreak coming under control. However, unlike with the Coronavirus, SARS did not have significant impacts on either consumer spending or domestic financial markets. The size of the impacted population and the death toll is also much larger with Coronavirus, which suggests that the eventual recovery will play out over a longer period.

It’s clear that the Coronavirus will have an impact on the economy and the housing market in 2020, but it is also clear that it is not time to panic. The effect of lower rates will help to offset some of the headwinds in the housing market, and forecasts of economic growth by C.A.R. and others have been revised down, but only by 10s of basis points—not hundreds. The situation remains fluid and the California Association of REALTORS® will be monitoring this situation closely and providing updates as information comes to the fore.

There are many industries that the home market reflects on. With buying, selling, and renting homes, goods and services related to those improvements have skyrocketed. The demand for building materials and experts than can install them has created a flurry of activity. This is certainly great news as our world is making its way to some sort of normal.


Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

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